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"The true purpose and ultimate significance can only ever come later."

Another birthday comes and another poem needs writing. Long tradition demands it. Had I never become the sort of cheap bastard who steadfastly refused to purchase presents, I might be off the hook. Instead, I chose the cheaper on the speculation that it might be good, better than the obvious alternatives. "Better for whom?," I ask as I start the annual stare down with another perfectly blank screen, hoping it might blink first. Tabula Rasa seems no great challenge for me. I dream of great inspiration visiting before simply settling in. A garden to weed, a lawn to mow, every routine chore could devolve into a simple bore, though each could become so much more. This pedestrian transformation knows no How To how, a curious emergent property, perhaps, of never knowing how. I simply must begin.

I imagine my dearest friend and I still don't know.
An unlikely thought bubbles up and I temporarily trap it in the most commanding position, first line of the opening stanza, no plot line in mind yet. It quickly becomes a Lego® game, find the dimples and connect them with corresponding pimples, building ever down the page until some formal construction appears, then repeating that pattern, however initially unencouraging, and the poem constructs itself, more or less. Meaning might emerge as well, telling me my next moves, sometimes chasing me backward with a strenuously administered delete key. A story unfolds.

It's oral origami, words folding upon themselves until sometimes, sort of recognizable presence appears. A simple square of screen comes to be seen as holding personality, not precisely a person as such, but characteristic character instead. It might elicit a giggle of discovery or an exasperated puff of disgust, anything's possible when extending this sort of trust. I must then simply stick with it. It might get better nearer the end. Then, I can always go back to the top (again and again) to hone the contents into what they by then seem determined to become. The finish work hardly seems like writing, more like sweeping up a floor. The dustpan collects the most brilliant utterings which were always destined to serve as catalyst for some greater end.

I slit my throat and bleed myself out all up and down the page. I sop up the worst of the mess before finally affixing my name. On this day, in this year, I was here committing another almost unspeakable act to celebrate your birthday and to deflect the onerous fact that I'm just such a cheap bastard that I refused to buy a gift. Even I consider myself a grifter, hardly a benefactor. I send the result with small remorse that I could not have mustered better. The true purpose and ultimate significance can only ever come later. Happy Birthday, Muse!

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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